Son of the Pink Panther (1993) is a continuation of the The Pink Panther film series. Directed by Blake Edwards, it stars Roberto Benigni as Inspector Clouseau's illegitimate son. Also in this film are Panther regulars Herbert Lom, Burt Kwouk and Graham Stark and a star of the original 1963 film, Claudia Cardinale. It was the final film for both filmmaker Blake Edwards and composer Henry Mancini; Edwards retired from movie making, and Mancini died the following year.
Template:Plot Princess Yasmin of Lugash (Debrah Farentino) is abducted in French territorial waters off the coast of Nice by terrorists led by a mercenary named Hans (Robert Davi) in order to force her father to abdicate and allow her disgraced stepmother's lover, a military general with terrorist ties to an unfriendly neighboring kingdom, to claim the throne. Police Commissioner Dreyfus (Herbert Lom) is tasked with solving the case of the kidnapped princess. While investigating her disappearance in the South of France, he has a run-in with the kidnappers, and a local gendarme, named Jacques Gambrelli (Roberto Benigni). Gambrelli opens the rear doors of the kidnapper's van and unknowingly spies the Princess who he believes is the driver's sister en route to the hospital.
Hans becomes aware that Gambrelli witnessed the Princess in the back of his van and sends his henchmen to kill Gambrelli as a routine precaution. Dreyfus follows Gambrelli to the hospital where he observes the bumbling Gambrelli's antics with stumbling around as well as getting his bicycle stuck in a wet cement sidewalk outside the hospital. When Hans' henchmen arrive and chase after Gambrelli on his bicycle, Dreyfus intervenes and saves the klutzy policeman. He then takes Gambrelli to his home where he lives with his mother Maria (Claudia Cardinale) whom Dreyfus recognizes as a suspect in a murder case 30 years ago. During the casual encounter with Maria, Dreyfus learns from her Gambrelli is in fact the illegitimate son of the late Inspector Jacques Clouseau. When Hans' men attempt to plant a bomb under the Gambrelli house, it leads to Dreyfus becoming injured instead and sent to the hospital.
While Maria decides to stay beside the injured Dreyfus at the hospital to see him recover, they both reveal Gambrelli's origins to him as the only known offspring of the late Inspector Clouseau. Gambrelli finally decides to set off to rescue Princess Yasmin and prove himself his father's true heir and legacy. Gambrelli recognizes one of Hans' henchmen at the hospital who is inquiring about a doctor for Hans who is injured after Yasmin had attempted to escape. Impersonating a doctor, Gambrelli gains access to Hans hideout and clumsy attempts to treat the injured Hans, who soon sees through Gambrelli's charade and has him locked up with the princess.
Hans decides to move his safe house out of France and to Lugash, and sends his men to kill Gambrelli by placing him in a van and rolling it down a steep road off a cliff, but Gambrelli manages to escape. Seeking help, Gambrelli travels to Paris to look up Clouseau's old friends and soon meets his late father's former manservent Cato Fong (Burt Kwouk) who directs him to Inspector Clouseau's former costumer Professor Auguste Balls (Graham Stark) to assist them with making new disguises for themselves to travel to Lugash to rescue Princess Yasmin. Gambrelli and Cato fly to Lugash where they meet a government agent at a local restaurant to point them the location of Hans' new hideout.
While being followed by the Lugash Army, as well as Cato, Gambrelli ventures to a castle located outside the Lugash capital city where in a climatic gun battle, Gambrelli gains access to the castle with the assistance of the army and after confronting Hans and his henchmen, defeats them, with a little of Cato's help and rescues Princess Yasmin.
After returning to France, Gambrelli is promoted to detective and transfers to Paris' metro police force as a full Police Inspector. He attends the wedding of Maria and Dreyfus whom have gotten engaged during their time together while Dreyfus recuperated at the hospital. During the reception, Dreyfus is uncomfortably shocked when Gambrelli's twin sister Jacqueline Gambrelli (Nicoletta Braschi) appears and who turns out to be just a clumsy and dim-witted as her brother, as Maria tells Dreyfus that she in fact had twins from her one-time tryst with Inspector Clouseau.
The final scene has Inspector Gambrelli attending a ceremony in Lugash attended by King Haroak and Princess Yasmin who award him with a special medal for his rescue of Yasmin which is attended by Maria, Dreyfus, Cato, Prof. Balls and Jacqueline Gambrelli where his clumsy antics disrupt the proceedings just like his father's Inspector Clouseau's antics used to do in previous Pink Panther films. Gambrelli closes the film with the line: "That felt good!" following by the image of Gambrelli freezing as the animated Pink Panther walks across the still of Jacques, until an animated Gambrelli suddenly cuts away the head of live-action Gambrelli and pops out of the hole, dropping the head on the Panther's foot; the enraged Panther chases him into fading blackness.
- Roberto Benigni as Gendarme Jacques Gambrelli
- Herbert Lom as Commissioner Charles Dreyfus
- Claudia Cardinale as Maria
- Debrah Farentino as Princess Yasmin
- Jennifer Edwards as Yussa
- Robert Davi as Hans Zarba
- Mark Schneider as Arnon
- Burt Kwouk as Cato Fong
- Mike Starr as Hanif
- Kenny Spalding as Garth
- Anton Rodgers as Chief Lazar
- Graham Stark as Professor Auguste Balls
- Oliver Cotton as King Haroak
- Shabana Azmi as Queen
- Aharon Ipalé as Gen. Jaffar
- Dermot Crowley as Sergeant Francios Duval
- Liz Smith as Marta Balls
This was the first Pink Panther film in a decade, following two unsuccessful attempts to continue the series following the death of Peter Sellers, who originated the character of Clouseau. Considered a relaunch of the series, the plan was for Roberto Benigni—a popular Italian comedian who had yet to be discovered in America—to continue on where Sellers had left off. However, Benigni was not Edwards' first choice for the role. Kevin Kline was attached for a while. He is a fan of the series and loves Edwards' work, but decided after reading the script that the project just wouldn't work. Edwards was convinced that Kline was the next Clouseau after seeing him in French Kiss. Kline and Edwards were to work together on a project called Luck (not an Edwards script) that William Morris packaged as a replacement project for the duo, but after this film flopped the project fizzled.
Rowan Atkinson was also offered the part, but declined (his star having risen considerably in the ensuing decade since Curse was offered to him). Atkinson loved Sellers' work and the Panther films, but was sure no one could replace Sellers. Gérard Depardieu was the next casting choice for Clouseau's son and was announced in the trades. When Giancarlo Paretti took control of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, he backed out of the project. Edwards sued the studio again for not allowing him to arrange outside financing. When Alan Ladd, Jr. came aboard, MGM settled out of court with Edwards. Ladd greenlit the film but Depardieu was now doing Ridley Scott's 1492: Conquest of Paradise and was no longer available. After the controversy over his rape remarks to an American journalist, MGM was also having second thoughts about Depardieu's suitability for a family-friendly comedy series.
Edwards then wanted Roberto Benigni after viewing Down by Law and Johnny Stecchino. While Benigni deliberated over the script, Tim Curry was kept in the wings as a potential back-up. Bronson Pinchot wanted the role, but MGM passed (probably because Blame it on the Bellboy tanked). There is early concept art for the theatrical poster showing Curry's moustachioed, frizzy-haired Gambrelli in cartoon form (in the baby carriage or pram that Benigni's cartoon visage would inherit). Curry also talked to the press about his desire for the role.
Securing Benigni in late 1991 found the film much-needed third party financing from Aurelio De Laurentiis (Dino's nephew). The film's budget of $28 million came partly from MGM (then under Alan Ladd Jr.) and with $13.8 million from Aurelio De Laurentiis' company, Filmauro. Filming started 8 June 1992 and production finished 14 months later, taking place in Pinewood Studios and the country of Jordan. The opening Pink Panther sequence cost an estimated $1 million.
Perhaps appropriately, this was the final film scored by Henry Mancini (he makes a cameo himself in the opening titles, giving his baton to the Panther who conducts the film's variation of the Theme). The soundtrack album was released by Milan Records.
- The Pink Panther Theme - arranged and performed by Bobby McFerrin (3:10)
- Son of the Pink Panther (1:33)
- The Snatch (2:22)
- God Bless Clouseau - music by Henry Mancini, lyrics by Leslie Bricusse (2:01)
- Samba de Jacques (2:24)
- The Gambrelli Theme (2:23)
- The Bike Chase (1:52)
- The Dreamy Princess (3:58)
- Riot at Omar's (2:40)
- Mama and Dreyfus (1:43)
- Rendez-vous with Cato (1:53)
- The King's Palace (1:47)
- The Showdown (3:31)
- The Pink Panther Theme (tenor sax solo: Phil Todd) (4:18)
Kroyer Films created the opening and closing titles for the film starring the animated Pink Panther and Clouseau Junior characters.
The Radio Times Guide to Films gave the film only 1 star out of 5. Rotten Tomatoes gave it a rating of 6% based on 34 reviews; the website's consensus states that "Roberto Benigni is an undeniably gifted physical comic, but [the film] betrays his energetic efforts with a painfully unfunny script." Roberto Benigni's performance in the film earned him a Razzie Award nomination for Worst New Star.
The film was a box office hit in Italy despite tanking everywhere else. Son of the Pink Panther thus failed to generate critical or commercial success, the loss of Sellers proving once again to be too great. Nevertheless, by 1996 MGM approached Robin Williams and Jim Carrey about the series. MGM would cut a deal for a Panther reboot with Edwards (allowing the film to proceed without his participation) in 1997. Amazingly, it would take nine years and many more prospective Clouseau's before Clouseau and the Panther returned to the screen. The series was rebooted in 2006 with the release of The Pink Panther starring Steve Martin as Inspector Jacques Clouseau and Kevin Kline (previously considered for the role of Clouseau) as Charles Dreyfus. The Pink Panther 2 saw Kline's Dreyfus replaced by John Cleese.
This is the last film of the original iteration of the Pink Panther franchise. This was the last film to be directed by Blake Edwards, who also co-wrote and produced all the previous Panther films and Inspector Clouseau. It is also the last film to be scored by Henry Mancini.
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